Key & Compass presents:
Earl Grey
by Rob Dubbin and Adam Parrish

Earl Grey is a Glulx interactive fiction game written with Inform 6 and is © 2009 by Rob Dubbin and Adam Parrish. It was an entry in IF Comp 2009 where it took 5th place. Also, at the 2009 XYZZY Awards, it won the Best Puzzles award.

In this small surreal wordplay game, you are visiting Eaves in his secret garden to help prepare for the biggest tea party of the year. It's a dream come true until you anger your host with a frivolous knock and he summons your new nemesis, the dread Earl Gry.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the game.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of an interactive fiction game. Please make an honest effort to play the game before reading this walkthrough.


Eaves SecretGarden Rotunda ThroneRoom Annex Night Sunrise Day Sunset


This was pretty much impossible to play without the author's walkthrough. Also, I'm going to leave out all the times you need to press SPACE to continue because it happens way too often and the game prompts you when you need to do that.

Secret Garden

You'll need to talk to Eaves first before doing anything else. Eaves explains that you'll be gathering varieties of tea and new friends.

> talk to Eaves. g. g. g.

> x bag. look. x Eaves. x robe.

> x tea service. x teapot. x sugar dish. x teacups.

> x light. x canopy. x flowers. x path. x roadway.

> talk to Eaves. x runebag. talk to Eaves.

> look. x donor.

By the way, the donor's weapon is randomized; he or she might have a flail or a javelin or maybe something else.

> talk to donor.

> talk to Eaves. knock donor.

> i. (You have an 'n' in your bag. Note that 'x bag' doesn't tell you this.)

> x door. talk to Eaves.

NOTE: Whenever casting a letter into something, always use lowercase for the letter. Casting an uppercase letter never works.

> cast n into door. (The donor leaves.)

> talk to Eaves. knock donor.

> cast n into door. (This donor leaves also.)

> talk to Eaves. look. knock plants.

Eaves' attitude changes.

> x pants. x service. g.

> talk to Eaves. ("Earl Grey" is now "Earl Gry".)

> talk to Eaves. x town. x girl. x townspeople. x Gry.

> talk to Eaves.

He returns the runebag and disappears via a summoned portal.

> i. (The bag has 'e', 'l', and 't'.)

> cast t into pained.

> x town. x flames. x mosaic. x streets. x buildings.

> x stonework. x father.

> cast e into father.

> x savaged. cast l into savaged.

> e.


> x ogreling. x halberd. x guardsman. x nightstick.

> talk to guardsman. g.

> talk to ogreling. g. g. g. (You need a weapon.)

> look. knock wary.

> talk to guardsman. s.


> x paper. x painting. knock mouth.

> x moth.

> cast u into paper.

> x pauper.

> talk to pauper. g. x dagger.

> talk to pauper. g. g. g.

The pauper loans you his dagger; you say you'll find a reignlog for him.

> n.


> talk to ogreling. g. g. g. g. g.

The ogreling opens a portal to the north.

> n. (You worry about the pauper's safety.)

> cast a into wry.

> n.

Eaves - Sunrise, Day

CAUTION: This section of the game, at "Eaves", is particularly tricky because the time-of-day keeps changing, and some actions are only possible at the right time-of-day. If you miss your chance at something because of this, you'll need to wait until it's that time-of-day again.

> x Eaves. x robe. x lice.

> knock lice. (It's now ice; you have an L.)

> x clock.

> knock clock. (It's now a lock; you have a C.)

> x statue. x crown.

> knock crown. (It's now a crow; you have an N.)

> knock crow. (It's now a cow; you have an R.)

> x ocean. x sphere. x granite.

At Sunset, the description of the ocean changes:

Eaves - Sunset, Night

> x ocean. (Note the "ions".)

> cast l into ions. (There's now sea lions.)

Note the "lazy moo" from the cow:

> cast n into moo. (The moo is now a moon.)

> x moon. (Note the "luster".)

> cast c into luster. (The luster is now a cluster.)

The sea lions climb onto the new rock formation. This is an important development, and what you need to happen before the next sunset.

> talk to Eaves.

> x lions.

> z. (Continue to wait until sunrise.)

Eaves - Sunrise, etc.

If the sea lions are on the cluster, they greet the sunrise with a woof, and the ice on Eaves becomes a glowing blue nimbus, which is good. Otherwise, the sea lions while submerge, missing the sunrise, and the lice on Eaves's robe will return, which is bad.

> x nimbus.

As you talk to Eaves, the nimbus eventually releases him and he responds.

> talk to Eaves. g. g. g. g. g. g. g. g. g, g.

After 11 rounds of conservation, Eaves produces a sword!

> x sword.

> talk to Eaves. g.

> knock sword. (It becomes a word; and you have an S.)

> x word.

> talk to Eaves. g. g. g.

So we're looking for a container that hides a key, and the word may help, but first find a way out of here.

> x platform. cast s into pure. (A purse!)

> x purse.

> talk to Eaves. (He opens the purse, takes a key, and unlocks the lock. A blue portal appears.)

> x portal. talk to Eaves.

> s. (Can't leave the cow as is.)

> cast r into cow. (The crow is back.)

You may want to save your game before going through the portal.

> s. (You and Eaves go to...)

Throne Room

You are immediately run through with a lance. You need to act quickly to save yourself.

> x queen. knock regal. (You get a G.)

> cast g into lance. (It's now a glance.)

You next need to talk to the king and queen twice. Two turns after that, Eaves will tell you something new.

> x donor. talk to donor.

> talk to queen. talk to king. (The king just... changed.)

> x king. x dais.

Eaves tells you the word is "steep". This is a new command-verb that will let you change words into their anagrams. But before you try to use it, talk to to the royal couple some more.

> look. x path. x creature.

> talk to king. g. g. g.

The king and queen call Earl Gry into the room. You'll need to talk to him to continue the scene.

> x Gry. x diadem. x bag. x chin.

> talk to Gry. g. g. g. g.

A coterie of garbsmiths enter and start flinging frocks at you.

> talk to king. (The Earl turns the frocks into rocks!)

> steep rocks. (The rocks become corks.)

You still need to heal yourself.

> steep camelid. (Medical!)

The medical creature heals you, and the garbsmiths desist flinging corks at you.

> talk to Gry.

> look. (Now a beast is covering you with slime.)

> steep slime. (They are now limes!)

> x limes. (The king's footmen take all the limes away.)

Talk some more to advance the story.

> talk to king. (Now the Earl has changed the king somehow.)

> x king. (His rows are now crows and you've lost something.)

> i. (You've lost the dagger.)

> knock crows. (Your runebag can't do that!)

The Earl summons the ogreling, who thinks it'll be a fair fight now.

> steep ogreling. (He becomes the reignlog!)

> x reignlog.

The crows give the dagger to the Earl before they fly off.

IMPORTANT TIMING NOTE: You need to wait until the exact moment when the Earl leaves.

> z.

> knock leaves. (He doesn't leave, and Eaves is here now.)

> talk to Eaves. g. (Soldiers arrive.)

> look. (Both Gry and Eaves are surrounded by donors.)

> knock donors. (They are now surrounded by doors.)

Wait for something new to happen.

> z. z. z.

After a few turns of standoff, both men lose their runebags to a new arrival, a woman named Caleanor.

> x Caleanor. (She wears green pants.)

She ushers in the lost prince. And she's unhappy with both Eaves and Earl.

> x prince. talk to Caleanor. (um, no.)

She's waiting for something. Is she really waiting for this?

> cast l into pants.

It seems she's here for you.

*** You have won ***




From the response to ABOUT:

Earl Grey

An Interactive Fiction by Rob Dubbin and Adam Parrish, submitted to the 2009 Interactive Fiction Competition.

Special thanks to our Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta Testers: Sabrina Banes, Sean Boyland, Josh Brandt-Young, Sam Cecala, Mike Dory, Andy Dubbin, Jeff Dubbin, Cailin Goldberg-Meehan, Francis Gulotta, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Casey Kolderup, Frank Lesser, Dave Parker, Leonard Richardson, and Nick Sylvester.

Glittering thanks to those for whom we were patience testers: Cailin Goldberg-Meehan and Sabrina Banes.

Rob's email redacted
Adam's email redacted


But note that death does not end the game. After your character dies, the game will roll back a bit to a safe point in the narrative, before you made any fatal errors, so you can try that part again.


Note that you're not permitted to take anything in this game except letters from words when you knock them. So the only inventory you actually get is stuff that others have given to you.


A summary of the word transformations in the game, whether done by you or someone else:

In the garden:

In the rotunda and annex:

In Eaves's sphere:

In the throne room:

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